Five unitized-low intensity infrared gas heaters, each with a 130,000 Btuh heating capacity, were installed by Town Toyota of East Wenatchee, WA, in the new 11,560-sq-ft service area. The heaters warm employees, the shop floor, and tools first, which results in a comfortable work environment, even during the cold winter months.
Established in 1987, the Wenatchee, WA area's only Toyota dealership needed a larger facility to keep up with customer service and sales demands. The architect working on the 11,560-sq-ft project for Town Toyota recommended infrared gas heaters over an electricity-based heating system. Terry Johnson, of PKJB Architectural Group, then contacted Tom Rissman of Space-Ray Northwest, Space-Ray's representative for Washington and Northern Idaho. Heating requirements for the metal roof service area were determined using Space-Ray's exclusive CompuHeat heat loss analysis system. The HVAC contractor was Dick's Heating and the general contractor was Hale and Long, both of East Wenatchee.

A variable ceiling

The service portion of the dealership consists of a 2,775-sq-ft area and a 8,790-sq-ft area, both with six bays each, and a detail shop, all of which are divided by the customer service drive. The 8,790-sq-ft area has a sloped ceiling, 20 ft high in the center vs. a 12-ft-high ceiling in the other service area. The facility sits on a concrete slab.

The area also has three metal roll-up doors with windows, two of which are located at either side of the service drive, and a third near the detail shop. "Infrared heaters are widely used in auto dealership applications throughout the North America," said Bob Genisol, vice president of sales and marketing for Space-Ray. "In the past, we focused on the repair areas of auto dealerships. With the introduction of newer model heaters, we can now heat all parts of the dealership with infrared heat including the write-up, detailing, body shop, wash bays, parts storage, and in some cases, the showroom areas."

Based on the CompuHeat analysis, five Space-Ray LTU130 U-Tube unitized low-intensity infrared gas heaters were specified, each with 130,000 Btuh heating capacity. The low-intensity heaters incorporate some unique features including a self-contained draft inducer which pull the products of combustion through the combustion chamber for increased radiant efficiency and safety; a factory-assembled tube and reflector body with a three-bolt control box assembly for easier on-site installation; monitoring lights for on-line diagnosis and maintenance; and a calorized steel emitter tube for higher radiant efficiency. One unitized low-intensity infrared gas heater is located on both ends of the service drive, one at the center of the six-bay service area, and two others at either end of the 8,790-sq-ft service area.

Rissman noted that Town Toyota was quick to experience the benefits of radiant heat technology in their first full heating season. "Radiant heat works from the bottom up, warming people, floor, and tools first, which results in a comfortable work environment, even during the cold winter months," Rissman said. "An effective heating system is critical for employee well-being during the September to April heating season."

Coming in from the cold

According to Jeff McElroy, service manager for Town Toyota, the heat is reliable and even throughout the service area. "The Space-Ray heaters are very efficient and create a comfortable shop atmosphere for our employees as well as customers in the reception area," said McElroy. "With these heaters, our employees remain consistently warm and comfortable throughout the work day. This is possible despite the constant opening and closing of the three service doors."

Added a detail specialist for Town Toyota: "I came from a cold shop, and it was a pleasant change to work in a shop that maintained a uniform level of heat. I noticed that the cars warm up and dry off very quickly, which really makes it nice to work on them." ES